Are you planning to move abroad? Do you want to settle in the US? Are you looking for a guide on “How to get a driving license in the US?” Probably yes.
Settling in a new country that too, which has an entirely different culture, lifestyle, and various rules and regulations is never easy. You will have to abide by all the rules and regulations implemented in that country.
Why there is a Need to get a Driving License in the US?
Getting a driving license is one of them. While staying in the US, you will need a car to make your transportation process more accessible.
Driving a car is the easiest and safest option for getting around while staying in the US. But if you do not have a valid US driving license, you will not be allowed to drive a car.
The individual states usually issue driving licenses in the US. Hence, the rules and regulations vary from one state to another. Generally, you will have to pass a written, driving, and vision test before you can get your driver’s license.
In this article, we have provided a comprehensive guideline on how you can get a driving license in the US.
So, stay attached to us to get detailed guidance on “how to get a driving license in the US.”
The Foreign Driving License
Before we provide a complete guide on getting a driving license in the US, let’s first discuss how can you benefit yourself if you have a foreign driving license.
If you have a driving license from your home country, you can continue using it in the US. The condition is that your driving license should be in the English language. However, if it is not in the English language, you will have to apply for an International driving license from the home country.
This license will be a translation of your actual driving license. However, do keep your original license with you as well while driving so that you can show it to the warden if required.
For How Long Can I use my Foreign Driving License in the US?
The visitors can use the driving license from their home country in the US for one year only. As soon as he establishes his residency in the US, he will have to apply for the US driving license within 30 to 90 days.
The legal age to obtain a driving license in the US varies from state to state. However, if you are above 21 years old, you are eligible to receive a driving permit throughout the US.
Contrarily, if you’re under 18, most of the states require that you must have a learner’s permit and hold it for a minimum of six months before you can get a full license.
Learner’s permits usually have more restrictions than adult learners permit.
How to get a Driving License in the US?
To get a US driving license, you will have to apply from scratch. You will have to abide by all the rules and regulations, pass the tests, and fulfill the demands set by the department. If you are able to do so, then you will be issued a US driving license.
Depending on the state you are living in, the documents demanded, and the fee would differ slightly. However, the overall process is more or less the same.
Let’s see what the procedure of getting a US driving license is.
1. Get Your Documents Ready
To get a US driving license for yourself, you will have to visit any of the local branches of the Department of Local Vehicles. But before going there, make sure to prepare all the necessary documents.
The documents that you will be asked to submit are:
- An Identification card that displays your name, date of birth, picture, and your residential address on it
- A Social Security Number (or any valid proof which shows that you are eligible to obtain it)
- A document that shows you are legally allowed to stay in the US, for example, visa, citizenship certification or permanent resident card
- Any documented proof that shows you are legally allowed to stay in that particular state, for example, a utility bill, state ID or a bank statement
- Driving license from your home country
- Passport-sized photographs
With all these documents, you will have to visit a local branch of the department of motor vehicles where you will be asked to fill in the application form along with your details.
2. Pay the Fee
To get a US driving license, you have to pay a certain amount of fee. The amount depends on the state in which you are residing. You may either be asked to pay $30 to $90 as a one-time fee or may also deposit $5 to $10 per year. Rules vary from one state to another.
3. Pass the Tests
To get a US driving license, you will have to pass a written as well as a practical driving test.
The written test consists of 20 to 50 questions about traffic rules and regulations which are implemented in that state. You have to solve all the questions in a given time frame.
Most states allow you to take the test in your native language as well. You can read your state’s handbook on traffic rules to prepare for the written test.
You can get a print copy of your state’s driver’s handbook from a local DMV. Driver’s manuals are also available online.
Download the recent version from your state’s official DMV website and read it before appearing for the written test.
Practical Driving Test
Once you clear the written test, you will have to schedule your actual driving test. In the driving test, you will be asked to drive the car during which the examiner will judge your
- Driving skills
- Parking Skills
- Reversing skills
- Vehicle controlling skills
And other such skills related to driving.
The practical exam may take 30 to 45 minutes. So, be well prepared before appearing for an actual driving test.
What Happens if I fail any of the Tests?
If you fail a written or a practical driving test, you will be asked to reappear in that test after a few days or a few weeks. They expect that you should come well prepared for the next time.
Depending on the state in which you are living, you may be asked to submit an extra fee to re-take the test.
Some states may ask you to restart the application process in case you fail the test thrice.
4. Get Your Eye-Sight Tested
Once you have cleared all the tests, you will now have to get your vision tested before you are certified to drive.
However, the law does not ask you to pass through a medical exam to get a driver’s license, but passing the vision test is necessary.
You can either get your eye-sight tested at any office of the local Department of Motor Vehicles or get a medical professional to issue you a vision test report.
If you wear glasses or contacts to drive, a specific type of restriction might be placed on your license. Furthermore, drivers with very weak eye-sight might also get additional restrictions that will only allow them to drive during daytime or drive only when they are wearing special lenses.
This step might also come in earlier, while you are taking your practical exam
5. Get Your Driving License
Once you have submitted all the documents and passed all the tests, you are now eligible to get a US driving license.
Instantly, you will be issued a temporary driving license. This temporary driving license will be valid for about 30 to 90 days.
As soon as your original driving license is ready, it will be sent to your residential address via mail.
A driving license is a powerful identity for you in the US. You can use it to cast a vote, prove your legal identity, and in some cases, even board a domestic flight. So, take good care of your driving license and do use it valuably.
For How Long is the Driving License Valid in the US?
The time duration of the validity of the driving license varies from state to state. In most states, driving licenses are valid for eight years. On the other hand, some states require renewal after every four years, while others let you keep your license until you turn 65.
Some US states have signed an agreement called reciprocity agreement with other countries. This means that if you have a driving permit issued from one of these countries, you will be able to exchange it for a US driving license of that particular state without having to take any tests. Those countries include:
- South Korea
Be very sure that the Reciprocity Agreement is state-dependent and does not apply to the entire country. Also, keep this thing in mind that you will still have to pay the fee and get your vision tested to get the equivalent US driving license. The exemption is for the tests only.
If your native country is not on the list, you can still ask from the DVM because you never know if some new agreements have been signed.